The quality of the people you associate with determines your life
The big question
Why do we have friends?
How do we select friends?
Should selecting friends be an active process?
What qualities should my friends have?
Where should I prioritize my efforts in friendship?
Appendix: Friendship has significant effects on happiness, smoking, and obesity
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
THE QUALITY OF THE PEOPLE YOU ASSOCIATE WITH DETERMINES YOUR LIFE
Make sure you have quality friends and associates who uplift you and support you and who have good qualities that also draw the best out of you. Expand to have exposure to Role Models And Mentors.
THE BIG QUESTION
Is having friends a passive process where people befriend you and then they are friends for life?
Or is it, or should it be, an active process where you select those who are your friends, based on mutual support and beneficial association?
We'll answer that in this section, but first it is worthwhile to gain some additional understanding and knowledge, as this is one of THE most important decisions you will make in your life! It's your life and it is your choice whether to use it well - and this is a huge part of that decision!
WHY DO WE HAVE FRIENDS?
It is necessary first to be fully cognizant of why we have friends before we can decide what to do about friends.
It "feels" good to have friends to do things with. It "feels" good to be liked. We are naturally social creatures, where it served a survival purpose to have a tribe where one could rely on others - and that "wiring" is in us to do that.
But if we take it for granted that we need friends as a basic "need", then the question is what other reasons are there to have friends - and is there a reason not to have certain friends?
The bottom line reason for selecting friends should be the benefits we receive from any one friend. And, because we have limited time at some point to add new friends, shouldn't we prioritize which friends give us the best benefits in total? I say "Yes! Absolutely yes!".
HOW DO WE BEST SELECT FRIENDS?
The criteria for friends should be:
Do they provide support for me achieving what I want in life?
Are they positive influences on how I live my life and on my happiness?
The only way you can have real friends who are not drawn in by one's masks or people-pleasing behavior is to learn to and to be Authentic.
One interesting criterion: to only have friends one feels honored to call a friend. Are you ready for that one?!!
SHOULD SELECTING FRIENDS BE AN ACTIVE, THINKING PROCESS?
Absolutely, just as living your life on purpose should be an active thinking process! This is your life and putting the best selection of friends into it makes a huge difference in the quality of your life and in who you become.
Use this checklist/evaluation system as to whether to acquire or keep a friends: Selecting Friends - An Evaluation Sheet.
WHAT QUALITIES SHOULD MY FRIENDS HAVE?
The qualities that you value and want for your own. They should not conflict.
As one fellow said: "I don't really respect them, but they're my friends."
Think about that. Does it make any real sense?
Is it out of a common viewpoint of "loyalty to friends, no matter what"? Yes, we need to consider the trade-offs on both sides, but giving up who you can truly become is not worth it.
WHERE SHOULD I PRIORITIZE MY EFFORTS IN FRIENDSHIP?
Who are your real friends? Which friends actually contribute to your life?
Use that to prioritize who you should be with.
Also, I would prioritize those friendships that you think will endure and who you can keep in contact with. Associating with people who are just going to flash through your life is not a priority compared to friendships that are enduring.
___ I am fine with the level of my friends.
___ I am afraid to change friends.
___ I am afraid to upgrade friends
___ I commit to making a list of all of my friends and determining which meet
the above criteria.
___ To the extent they don't, I will look for who does and associate with
them, seeing who I can convert into a friend.
FRIENDSHIP HAS SIGNIFICANT EFFECTS ON HAPPINESS, SMOKING, AND OBESITY
A recent study (per 12/08 publications) reported by BMJ in their medical journal concluded that:
"People’s happiness depends on the happiness of others with whom they are connected. This provides further justification for seeing happiness, like health, as a collective phenomenon."
They concluded that the happiness of an immediate social contact increased an individual's chances of becoming happy by 15%, Fowler says.
The happiness of a second-degree contact, such as the spouse of a friend, increases the likeliness of becoming happy by 10%, and the happiness of a third-degree contact -- or the friend of a friend of a friend -- increases the likelihood of becoming happy by 6%.
Having more friends also increased happiness, but having friends who were happy was a much bigger influence on happiness.
Last year the same researchers made headlines when they reported that obesity seems to spread through social groups, so that your chances of becoming overweight are greater when your friends and their friends gain weight.
A related study, published earlier this year, found that smokers were more likely to give up cigarettes when their family, friends, and other social contacts stopped smoking.
This offers further evidence that the care with which one selects friends is vital to health and happiness.
RESOURCES: See also Relationship Resources.
*First Impressions- What You Don't Know About How Others See You, Ann Demarais,
Ph.D. and Valerie White, Ph.D., The best of its type that I've ever seen. It is essential
that you learn these insights and skills to succeed in this world, no matter what it is you
do. You can also print a copy of the tables and self-assessment forms off of the